When my husband and I had to relocate for his job last summer, I was a little perturbed. We had lived in the same area for nearly 20 years, and leaving behind all of our friends and family was a scary proposition. Now that we’ve been in our new residence for over a year, I’m amazed at how easy the transition has been.
Most of this can be attributed to our amazing neighbors, who have been warm and welcoming since the day we moved in. The only thing that I haven’t been able to get over, however, is the hard water. I had heard horror stories about hard water before I moved here, but this was my first first-hand experience with it. It certainly isn’t reason to up and move, but it is a constant annoyance. Everyday it seems like I have to whip out my decalcifier and go to work on the coffee machine or some other household appliance.
With the economy the way it is, few people have the disposable income necessary to go out to a fancy dinner with their friends or family. But just because you can’t go to an upscale restaurant doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a first-rate meal. Entertaining in your home is infinitely more affordable than going out, plus it gives you the opportunity to socialize at length and enjoy the comforts of your abode.
Making it a classy affair isn’t too difficult. A simple white tablecloth and some matching dinnerware is a good place to start. Also be sure that everything on the menu can easily be eaten with silverware, as finger-food as anything except hors d’oeuvres will have a distinct casual feel. Using a Cilio pepper mill, samovar or other traditional fine dining equipment is another great way to add a touch of class without breaking the bank.
Unlike baking, there aren’t any set and fast rules when it comes to basic cooking. If you observe an experienced chef, you’ll notice that they rarely, if ever, meter out the seasonings and spices they use in there cuisine. This is because the amount of seasoning you use when cooking doesn’t affect the consistency or cooking time like it does in baking. And since fresh ingredients like meat, fish, poultry and produce vary greatly in their flavor depending on the season and region they come from, the necessary seasonings will be different every time you step into the kitchen.
Many home cooks make the mistake of seasoning all of their food the same. Certain foods, such as most fish and crustaceans, have naturally high levels of sodium. So it probably isn’t necessary to whip out the salt mill. The best way to determine the proper blend of seasonings is through simple experimentation. Once you have a grasp of the flavor profile of various foods, you’ll naturally be able to discern which spices will meld best with the natural flavors.
As we’ve said before in this blog, it doesn’t matter if you invest in state-of-the-art Solis espresso machines and have all of your settings perfect if your are using subpar ingredients. Since water and coffee are the only two ingredients in espresso, it’s imperative that they are both of the utmost quality. Once you’ve found some premium beans and some crisp, clean water, use these guidelines for the actual brewing process:
~Use 7 grams of coffee and 1-1.5 oz of water for a single shot (double these quantities for a double)
~The brewing time should be 20-25 seconds, regardless if you’re making a single or a double
~After 20-25 seconds, your espresso should be about the same volume as the water put in. If this isn’t the case, you’ll need to adjust one of the variables
Pressure is one of the most important variables when it comes to brewing flawless espresso; too much and the espresso will be too gritty, not enough and it will be watery. There are actually two facets to the pressure equation: tamp pressure and brewing pressure. Tamp pressure refers to how tightly the grounds are compacted in the portafilter of your coffee makers. A good starting point is 30 lbs of pressure, but you can obviously adjust this to your particular taste.
When it comes to the brewing pressure, you should shoot for about 8 to 9 BAR of pressure—about 135 PSI. Most machines have this built-in already, so you probably won’t have to worry about it. Some machines advertise that they can brew at higher pressures, but this really isn’t necessary and will not improve the quality of your espresso.
In order to brew a perfect cup of espresso, it’s essential that the water be heated to the proper temperature. The water should always be somewhere between 190 and 195 degrees Fahrenheit during the brewing process. Heating water to the perfect temperature used to be a chore, but high-tech Saeco espresso machines have made this process simple.
If you are going to be drinking straight espresso, the temperature is particularly important. Since an espresso is so small, it loses its heat quickly. To prevent this, pour some hot water into your espresso cup to heat it up before you pour in the actual espresso. For those who like to spruce up their espresso, it’s important to keep the temperature of the crema in mind as well.
If you want to create a coffeehouse quality cappuccino in your own home, professional-style cappuccino makers are a necessity. As any coffee connoisseur knows, a cappuccino is comprised of three components: coffee, steamed milk and milk foam. The first two parts of this equation can be done without the aid of a cappuccino maker, but the milk foam is a different story.
This is really the defining characteristic of the cappuccino, and if it is done incorrectly, it can spoil the entire beverage. A specialty cappuccino maker has an attachment specifically designed for foaming milk, ensuring you achieve the perfect frothiness every time. While you can try to do it yourself, the only way to get the best results is with a professional machine.
Since the dawn of time, man has searched for the means to transcend aging, and for centuries upon centuries has failed. The truth is, no known substance can prevent aging; there’s no pill that can rejuvenate aging cells, or make hair turn back to its natural color. However, it is possible to appear more youthful and live longer with a few smart lifestyle choices. For example, it’s a good idea to avoid ingesting excessive fats and calories while using discretion when you breakout the salt mill. The old adage “you are what you eat” holds true for aging too. Eat lots of fresh fruits and vegetables instead of processed foods with lots of preservatives.
It’s also important to avoid drugs and alcohol, as smoking especially causes cells to decay at a much faster rate. People who don’t smoke live longer; it’s a fact. It’s also important to limit alcohol consumption, and avoid drinking to excess.
When I opened my first restaurant a few months ago, I knew it was going to be an arduous process. Especially in these tumultuous economic times, luxuries like going out to eat are usually the first to be struck from personal budgets. With that in mind, as the proprietor of a new restaurant I recognized the necessity to deliver a high quality experience to my customers while keeping their pocketbooks in mind.
I catered my menu to this economy, using affordable meats like chicken and local fish while using the in-depth sauces and spice combinations to create eclectic flavors. You don’t have to spend a lot of money to bring your customers a first-rate dining experience. Doing the small things, such as offering fresh cracked pepper from pepper mills and bringing fresh baked bread to each table, really makes your eatery standout in people’s minds.
Nowadays people are quite intimidated by the prospect of performing maintenance on their vehicles and appliances. Something as simple as changing a headlight has evolved into an arcane process which requires the expertise of a trained mechanic. But some technologies are still easy for anyone to maintain, and if you’re willing to make the extra effort, the improved performance is palpable.
Take coffee makers for instance. Most Americans are constantly running their machine, but how often do you see someone take the time to clean it? You may think that this process is complex and superfluous, but it only takes a few minutes and your coffee is guaranteed to taste better. All you need a descaler product, which effortlessly removes buildup and deposits from your machine without leaving any residue or aftertaste.